February 21st, 2008

#921: Captain Fantastic

So I was going to make a copy of Captain Fantastic (CF) for my boss.

CF is a movie (er, "video") that some friends and I made in 1991. Patrick and I were talking about making movies Monday night, and I mentioned that CF will be 20 years old in 2011, and it would be great if I could finally get the raw footage dumped into the computer and edit it in the PC, with new titles and all-stereo music and real scene transitions.

The present version is all-analog, edited using an "A-B roll"--hook VCR A to VCR B, and swap tapes and do other things as needed to get the video pieced together.

If I want to make a "master" tape, it ends up being a 1.5-hour ballet which takes about 7 hours to set up for: get music ready, get sound effects ready, hook all the equipment up, etc, etc. Start recording, start playing the edit, and then work like a club DJ. It's not hard but it's complex and time-consuming, and I haven't made a new "master" since 1991 anyway since I need an audio mixer to do it. I don't have one; at the time I used a friend's 4-track recorder as a mixer.

The current "edit" has some bad scene cuts and other failures, and I could do a lot better with computer editing. I could also precisely set where I want music to begin and end, and do other things such as add fancy scene transitions. It needs a new title sequence (both OP and ED) and a couple of the fight scenes could do with a bit of editing.

Anyway, so he told me, "When you do that, shoot me a copy." I told him I could do that now; so I made a note for myself to make a copy of it.

In 2002, Walgreen's had an ad in their weekly flyer: they'd transfer 2 hours of video to a DVD for $30. It was a good deal, and I knew I wanted CF on DVD, so I jumped at it.

Tuesday evening, then, I sat down at the computer with the DVD in hand, intending to use the "disk copy" function of my writable disk software to copy the disk.

...of course, the DVD+/-R/RW/CD-R/RW/WTF drive couldn't read it. It just made weird grunts and groans for a couple of minutes. So I hooked a DVD player up to the DVD recorder and--of course--did a good old "A-B roll". *sigh*

The video quality shouldn't suffer much, if at all, and I used the S-video port just to keep degradation to a minimum. This made me a disk which can be copied by the computer, so all is well.

Why this particular disk is unreadable in the computer, I don't know, other than the fact that if it were, that would have been too m-f-ing easy.

As for the movie, it's still funny to me, even though I've seen it about 85,000,000 times.

Doing a "digital remaster" of the movie by 2011 will, hopefully, not be beyond my capabilities. All I really need to do at this point is get some kind of reasonable video editing software. The software I have is junk, and probably won't work under Vista anyway.

But I've transferred the video to DVD+R, using my DVD recorder, and I can pull it into the computer with ease; this way I don't need to buy any hardware to digitize the video.

I've got an Iomega Buz, though, and the software for it was pretty easy to use. It took fourteen hours to render a 30 MB MPEG into a smaller Quicktime file. (To be fair, though, this was ten years ago, and I was using a Celeron 333, which is practically an abacus next to the multi-core, multi-GHz processor I now use.)

The edit of the video is just the first part, though. I know what needs to be fixed, and with the precision of digital editing it'll be easy to trim scenes by the frame if need be; the second problem is the music.

I have several tracks of classical music which are musts for this production, but I've only got them on LP. CD is probably out of the question for these unless I can accept different versions--and I'd rather not do that. But I can surmount this hurdle pretty easily, too.

The third problem is that some scenes just aren't complete; we didn't shoot enough video that I can "rescue" them from looking crappy. I can fix a lot with selective editing but I can't change the fact that we really needed this or that additional shot to really make the scene complete. But, what the hell: it's an amateur production, not a Hollywood blockbuster (though it SHOULD be!) and the roughness of some scenes lends a campy air to the whole thing.

The movie itself is meant to be parody of the superhero genre, and on that level the technical deficiencies of the production values don't really matter. It's just that some things could have been done better if we'd tried.

Also touching on this point is that the primary director of the effort, Keith, at first tried to do all the editing "in-camera", as we shot the film--so some cuts, while rough, can never be corrected without re-shooting, and that won't happen for a variety of reasons.

So even with digital post-production, the movie will never be "slick" or "professional". But it'll be fun to watch, even so, and very easy to duplicate.

Heck, maybe someday I can post it somewhere.

#923: Geburtstag, er, Donnerstag.

In one of my German classes, I forgot the name for "Thursday" and said "Geburtstag" (birthday) instead of "Donnerstag" (Thursday). The German teacher--who was native German--got a laugh out of it.

As you can see, PreCure has resumed. I finally got through the first episode. I don't know if I'll continue the story past that, but at least I've got that much.

It came to 29 pages, though two of the pages are 2-panel efforts. Still, it's a pretty thick deal when you're talking about one episode out of forty-nine. If I continue to do this, it'll take years to complete the story.

On the other hand, I can skip several episodes entirely since they're basically re-hashing the first ep: something happens, the girls meet up, something else happens, Bad Guy appears, girls transform, BG summons Zakenna, girls fight bad guys, girls use the Marble Screw, BG escapes and goes home. The hard part then becomes making sure I get all the plot development in without bothering to do a blow-by-blow of the series. And making it a damn sight funnier, too.

Screencap webcomics look a lot easier than they are.

* * *

Having finally had enough of various pages crashing Netscape--and since Netscape officially becomes abandonware starting March 1--I DLed and installed Firefox on this machine, and now I'm trying to get used to it. Importing my bookmarks from Netscape wasn't difficult.

What's annoying me is that it's underlining words that it thinks I've misspelled. I turned off that feature in Word and I want to turn it off here, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to do it. No matter; I'll get there eventually.

(Ha! Found it already. The little red underlines are history, baby!)

Wait, they're not. WTF. It probably won't change until I restart the bitch since there's no "apply" button in the options menu. *sigh*

Still, even if they never turn off, it's better to have that than to have the damn browser crash every time I try to look at a web site which doesn't perfectly conform to the HTML spec as Netscape/AOL sees it. I have an intense dislike for the way Internet Explorer does things, so I have no desire to use it, particularly since IE is the one hackers go after the most.

Also, it seems to work a bit faster than Netscape. We'll see if it has the same annoying "I lock up at random and crash if you try running uTorrent at the same time!" issue that Netscape has. Hopefully not.

* * *

There's not a lot in the news this morning which makes me want to comment. I suppose if I wait for Boortz to get his kiester in gear there'll be something interesting there.

* * *

I can't seem to find the post in which I linked to a story which mentioned Ford's money woes and why they lose $5,000 per car they sell. Damn it.

Oh well. More later, I guess.